5: Fake Movie Trailers

Looks like I’m hopping on the YouTube train with Vivian and Taj. The other day, I saw this video in my YouTube recommendations:

I’m not sure why YouTube recommended this to me, exactly. Okay, no, wait—I’m pretty sure it’s because I spend unholy amounts of time watching Miley Cyrus videos and replaying my favorite clips from episodes of Andi Mack, which is a show that’s currently on Disney Channel. But I digress.

When this video appeared in my YouTube feed, all that I could see of the title was “Hannah Montana: Revival (2019) Teas…” I knew, of course, that it almost had to be fake, but I was still intrigued. So I clicked on it and looked at the number of likes before watching—usually, if a YouTube creator has tried to hoodwink viewers, the “dislikes” will heavily outnumber the “likes”. Yet as of now, the video has 16k likes to only 253 dislikes. I then checked the full title of the video: “Hannah Montana: Revival (2019) Teaser Trailer – Miley Cyrus Movie Concept”.

Obviously, if this person wasn’t fishing for views, they would not have included the year 2019, and they probably would have begun the title with “Movie Concept” instead of tacking that onto the end where no one could see it. Nonetheless, whatever they had done, people seemed to like.

The “text”—a video or movie trailer, in this case—basically combines video clips from Miley Cyrus’s more recent performances, such as a live performance of “The Climb” from 2017 and some shots from her music videos for “Malibu” and “Younger Now”. (I would identify this as the “assemblage” form of remixing, albeit without the political or argumentative undertones typically associated with it.) The video begins with the trademark Disney opening sequence–fireworks over Disney Castle–before moving on to some sort of interview clip in which Cyrus says, “I think why people loved Hannah Montana was because Hannah Montana did feel real, and that’s because I was under there, and people forgot that sometimes, and I loved being that.” It then segues to audio from Cyrus’s 2017 “The Climb” performance, interspersing various performance clips of Cyrus throughout the video. It ends with the official Hannah Montana logo, presumably photoshopped to include “Revival” under the title.

This person isn’t trying to sell a movie, pitch a movie, or make a movie based on Hannah Montana, so I think it does fit into Lessig’s model of fans who harmlessly remix material to share it with other fans. Like the mother filming her son dancing to Prince, no one would watch this Hannah Montana video if they wanted to listen to one of Miley Cyrus’s songs or see one of her music videos—the clips are so brief that no one could possibly get anything out of them.

These sorts of videos—movie trailers that almost could be real, even though they are not—loosely engage in the sort of mimesis that Edwards discusses in his article by “replicating reality by mimicking its features” (44). Usually, the idea of mimesis is used in another sense, but I think it’s fairly relevant here. So is the idea of imitatio that Edwards also discusses: “studying, memorizing, internalizing, recalling, and recasting models” (44). The creator of this mock movie trailer has watched real movie trailers before, and so they know what elements go into a successful movie trailer; this enables them to utilize these elements to create a believable trailer.

I think that remix, in cases like this, can help content creators hone their skills for future projects. It kind of reminds me of fanfiction authors—a lot of them develop strong writing skills by taking a preexisting framework (another author’s characters, story world, etc.) and making it their own. The story and characters are already figured out for them, which gives them room to work on dialogue, imagery, narration, and so on. In this way, making mock movie trailers could be a way for creators to practice making “real” movie trailers. That isn’t to say that remixing can only be used as “training wheels”, but that’s one of its potential functions.


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Works Cited:

Edwards, Dustin. “Framing Remix Rhetorically: Toward a Typology of Transformative Work.” Computers and Composition, Vol. 39, 2016, pp. 41-54.

Lessig, Lawrence. “Introduction.” Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, The Penguin Press, 2008, pp. 1-19.